Quality of Life & Place

Heartland Visioning facilitates community change to improve the quality of life in Topeka & Shawnee County and seeks to create a growing, prosperous, dynamic, and trusting community. They’re a community-wide convener that facilitates Visioning, Engagement, and Implementation of the Quality of Life and Quality of Place Initiatives in Topeka.

Heartland Visioning Beliefs

What We Do

Heartland Visioning facilitates community change to improve our quality of life in Topeka and Shawnee County.

What is the Visioning Process?

1. Engage Community (Listening)

  • Listens to understand citizen input on issues, concerns, ideas, and dreams

2. Establish Community Priorities (Strategize)

  • Assess data and establish priorities
  • Form network teams to address priorities holistically

3. Convene Public and Private Partnerships (Social Capital – Power of the people!)

  • Explore and respond to gaps
  • Encourage Cooperation
  • Find adaptive, imaginative, creative solutions
  • Follow through on community projects: NOTO, Downtown Redevelopment, Riverfront, etc.

4. Communicate with Community (Celebrate Success)

  • Sharing of information with the community, volunteers, donors, and government entities

Management Committee

The Management Committee is the executive board of Heartland Visioning. This group is involved in the strategic planning process and oversight of the organizational operations, establishing priorities and putting a focus on “what’s next.” 

Steering Committee

The Steering Committee is a representation of community volunteers (Visionary Volunteers) who commit themselves to provide leadership, forming public/private partnerships and collaborations, and working toward the establishment of an economically success City and County and a great quality of life for its citizens. This committee remains fluid always asking, “Who else needs to be at the table?” In the year 2016, there were 150 total volunteers and 50 participated on average each month. Our volunteers consist of 27% public sector representatives and 73% private sector representatives.

Responsibilities include:

  • Attend monthly meetings
  • Address community concerns – listening and participating in community meetings
  • Speaking positively about our community and the Heartland Visioning process
  • Perform leadership roles where necessary
  • Participate on committees that are focused on approved priorities and areas of interest to the organization
  • Research, Facilitate, and communicate the process required to resolve community concerns  associated with our approved priorities and stated areas of interest

NOTO Arts District Master Plan

Heartland Visioning, NOTO Arts District Partners, and Redbud Foundation are starting a major new planning initiative that will address the future of the NOTO Arts District and surrounding North Topeka community. The Redbud Foundation, which has been a long-time supporter of NOTO, will fund the effort. Heartland Visioning will be the overall coordinator.

Representatives of the NOTO and Redbud boards noted since the district has become widely recognized as a special arts-oriented business area at the north end of downtown Topeka, it needs to take the next steps in regards to its overall development. “NOTO is a symbol of what Topeka wanted and proof that a community’s dream can be realized,” said NOTO Artist Barbara Waterman – Peters. “It is now time to examine all of these factors and to find how they and some new ideas can and will lead to SUSTAINABILITY.” With committed business and property owners and new Arts Center, along with the infrastructure and riverfront projects planned for downtown, the two boards and Heartland Visioning staff felt that the timing was right to craft a detailed blueprint for NOTO’s future.

The need for a NOTO master development plan as well as new District management strategy was confirmed last October when consultant John LaMotte, AICP, conducted 25 meetings with area stakeholders. LaMotte observed, “The North Topeka Arts District has come a long way in a short time and still has so much potential. It is a diamond in the rough.” He is a principal with LaMotte West, an Oregon-based city planning and community development firm. His leadership experience includes serving on the boards of professional and civic groups, including the Chicago Public Art Group.

To assist in crafting the new plan, The Lakota Group, a Chicago-based planning and design firm will join the LaMotte West team. Both firms have extensive professional experience involving downtowns, special districts, main streets, commercial corridors, neighborhoods and community planning processes. Scott Freres, RLA and Nick Kalogeresis, AICP, senior members of The Lakota Group, will also be involved in the plan. Kalogeresis is a former program officer for the National Main Street Center and will assist the team in assessing NOTO’s organizational/management structure.

The process includes three phases: a State of the District assessment, January 2016; Community Visioning of alternative development and management scenarios, April 2016; and the Master Plan, June 2016. It will focus on the current challenges facing NOTO as well as positive elements such as its active businesses and strong arts theme.

  • Area-wide plans affecting NOTO
  • Potential future boundaries of the district
  • Concepts for new and infill development
  • Design ideas for enhancing public spaces, streetscape, storefronts, gateways and public art
  • Concepts for reorganizing NOTO’s management structure
  • Potential of a historic district designation

The district, which is a prime example of a small town Kansas Main Street, has the most significant grouping of historic commercial buildings remaining in Topeka. The potential of a National Register historic district designation will also be explored as well as concepts for reorganizing NOTO’s management structure.

A key component of the planning process is to assist the NOTO Arts District Board, local business and property owners and artists in crafting a new organizational model for how to manage the District on a daily basis. As it has become more active and recognized, the District is experiencing what LaMotte notes are “growing pains involving special events planning, business retention and attraction, stakeholder communication, marketing and fundraising”.

The master plan is targeted for completion this summer. 

National Parks Service Oregon Trail Park

The National Park Service conducted a week-long Design Charette at the Great Overland Station August 22-26, 2016. Check out some of the highlights! 

  • The National Park Service celebrated their centennial on August 25, 2016. Topeka hosted a birthday celebration for the National Trails Intermountain Region & Brown vs. Board of Education at the Great Overland Station.
  • Quincy Elementary Students involvement in concept ideas and Birthday celebrations with singing was the highlight for everyone!
  • There were 50+ people at Monday’s open house, 100+ people at Tuesday’s all-day charette and 70+ people at Friday’s reveal!
  • Participants joined us from around the state including 10 of the Oregon & California Trails Association members consisting of the State President, National Vice President and National Secretary. We even included members of the Kansas State University Faculty.
  • This project will take time to finish, but good and necessary steps are occurring right now including contributions on levees directed by the Army Corp of Engineers.


Become a Topeka Social Ambassador

Are you proud of your community? Help share what matters to you most as a Topeka Social Ambassador. Social Ambassadors are a group of social media active area professionals, businesses, residents and community leaders who show their support, enthusiasm and passion for the Greater Topeka area by sharing positive news, announcements, and showcasing life via their personal or professional social networks using the #TopCity hashtag. You also have the opportunity to positively affect Topeka’s online presence, via Youtube, Great Schools, Capital Journal, and other sites. Sign up now to become an official Social Ambassador for Topeka. Get alerts with the latest news and announcements and start sharing!

Safe Streets Coalition

The Safe Streets Coalition is a group of citizens whose goal is to reduce crime and substance abuse by working together to make Topeka the safest community in America.  The Coalition is open to anyone who would like to attend.  Meetings are the first Wednesday of every month at the Great Overland Station.  Meetings begin at 11:45 a.m.  Please RSVP to if you would like to attend.

In addition to the Coalition meetings here are two other ways to become involved:

Lock It Remove It or Lose It helps reduce thefts from vehicles.  Contact Nickie Roberts for details.

The Substance Abuse Task Force combats underage drinking and substance abuse in the community.  Contact Irene at for meeting information.

National Night Out

National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer and more caring places to live. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community. Furthermore, it provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.

This year National Night Out is on August 5. There is still time to get involved and there is still plenty to do.  The next meeting is on July 6 at 6:30 p.m. at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. For more information please email

Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods

Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods is the community health coalition in Topeka and Shawnee County, Kansas.  The monthly workgroup meetings focus on mobilizing people, ideas and resources around topics and issues identified in the Community Health Needs Assessment and the Community Health Improvement Plan. Work groups include: active environment, healthy eating, healthy babies, health equity, communities of care and WorkWell Shawnee County

Meetings are held the second Monday of every month at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library.  For more information please contact Lissa Staley at or 785-580-4629.

Join your Neighborhood Association

Find your neighborhood association on the City of Topeka website and contact the president to participate. 

Community Pride Campaign

In 2013 the community spoke about wanting to increase civic pride and community involvement. The truth is, there are some highly innovative and collaborative projects occurring in Topeka and Shawnee County. Heartland Visioning aims to bring a positive light to these through a Community Pride Campaign. We are a #TopCity!

Health & Safety, Spring 2017

Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods and Safe Streets represent Topeka & Shawnee County’s health and safety coalitions. They are working hard for improving the quality of life for all citizens and anyone is welcome to join in this work. Find more information on their websites here: &  We are proud of our partnerships and we are TOPEKA PROUD! Dave Uhler of Berkeley Square Media Inc. was the producer.

Watch the video here!

Vision Topeka, Fall 2016

Mayor of Topeka, Larry Wolgast shares his excitement for the future. He highlights projects in Topeka’s Dynamic Core including Jayhawk Theatre, Cyrus Hotel, Constitution Hall, Riverfront Development, National Park Service Oregon Trail Park and NOTO Arts District Phase II Development. These developments along with public/private partnerships are working to improve the Quality of Life in Topeka & Shawnee County. Join him in being, TOPEKA PROUD! Dave Uhler of Berkeley Square Media Inc. was the producer.

Watch the video here!

America’s Crossroads to Freedom, Topeka Proud, Spring 2016

We are proud of our past. We are proud of our freedoms. We have a vision for the future. We are Topeka Proud! Celebrating our rich heritage, diversity, past, and future this video certainly leaves you feeling proud. Heartland Visioning created a committee through the Community Pride Network Team to create this video. Dave Uhler of Berkeley Square Media Inc. was the producer. 

Watch the video here!

Downtown Topeka Proud, Fall 2015

Working with Downtown Topeka Inc. we contracted with Philip (Brail) Watson to produce the music and Dave Uhler of Berkeley Square Media Inc. to produce the full video and WIBW to produce the commercial spot that features Brail’s original song and images of downtown. The hope is to get the community excited about the changes coming to downtown!

Pine Ridge Prep, Spring 2015

Pine Ridge Prep and Parents as Teachers Program was produced by KTWU. It is an example of the collaborative partnership between Topeka Public Schools, Topeka Housing Authority, and United Way Greater Topeka. Watch for this ad as well as our next one on the Bike Share Program on TV, Youtube, and other social media venues. Each ad will end with a group of people sharing another truth, “We are Topeka Proud!”

Community Engagement Coordinator
Glenda DuBoise

Glenda DuBoise

Executive Assistant
Liz Cornish

Liz Cornish